http://www.egyptindependent.com/Hundreds of people have staged a protest outside Defence Ministry headquarters in Cairo’s Abbasseya neighborhood Friday afternoon demanding President Mohamed Morsy step down. Controversial talk show host Tawfiq Okasha, owner of the privately-owned Al-Faraeen satellite channel, has reportedly called for the demonstration against the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood. Local media reports that the Revolutionary Youth Union also called for a sit-in at the ministry until Morsy cedes to their demands. The state-run Al-Akhbar newspaper reported on its website that sympathizers with ousted President Hosni Mubarak also joined the protest, chanting slogans demanding the army join opposition calls for early presidential elections ahead of the planned 30 June protests. Al-Akhbar said that military police intensified its presence in the area.
Friday, June 21, 2013
CIA agents and special operations troops have trained the rebels in anti-tank and antiaircraft weaponry in Jordan and Turkey.CIA operatives and U.S. special operations troops have been secretly training Syrian rebels with anti-tank and antiaircraft weapons since late last year, months before President Obama approved plans to begin directly arming them, according to U.S. officials and rebel commanders. The covert U.S. training at bases in Jordan and Turkey, along with Obama's decision this month to supply arms and ammunition to the rebels, has raised hope among the beleaguered Syrian opposition that Washington ultimately will provide heavier weapons as well. So far, the rebels say they lack the weapons they need to regain the offensive in the country's bitter civil war. The tightly constrained U.S. effort reflects Obama's continuing doubts about being drawn into a conflict that has already killed more than 100,000 people and his administration's fear that Islamic militants now leading the war against President Bashar Assad could gain control of advanced U.S. weaponry. The training has involved fighters from the Free Syrian Army, a loose confederation of rebel groups that the Obama administration has promised to back with expanded military assistance, said a U.S. official, who discussed the effort anonymously because he was not authorized to disclose details. The number of rebels given U.S. instruction in Jordan and Turkey could not be determined, but in Jordan, the training involves 20 to 45 insurgents at a time, a rebel commander said. U.S. special operations teams selected the trainees over the last year when the U.S. military set up regional supply lines to provide the rebels with nonlethal assistance, including uniforms, radios and medical aid. The two-week courses include training with Russian-designed 14.5-millimeter antitank rifles, anti-tank missiles and 23-millimeter antiaircraft weapons, according to a rebel commander in the Syrian province of Dara who helps oversee weapons acquisitions and who asked that his name not be used because the program is secret. The training began in November at a new American base in the desert in southwestern Jordan, he said. So far, about 100 rebels from Dara have attended four courses, and rebels from Damascus, the Syrian capital, have attended three, he said. "Those from the CIA, we would sit and talk with them during breaks from training, and afterward they would try to get information on the situation" in Syria, he said. The rebels were promised enough armor-piercing anti-tank weapons and other arms to gain a military advantage over Assad's better-equipped army and security forces, the Dara commander said. But arms shipments from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, provided with assent from the Americans, took months to arrive and included less than the rebels had expected. Since last year, the weapons sent through the Dara rebel military council have included four or five Russian-made heavy Concourse antitank missiles, 18 14.5-millimeter guns mounted on the backs of pickup trucks and 30 82-millimeter recoil-less rifles. The weapons are all Soviet or Russian models but manufactured in other countries, the commander said. Such weapons allow the rebels to easily use captured munitions from the Syrian army, which has a large arsenal of Russian and Soviet arms. "I'm telling you, this amount of weapons, once they are spread across the province [of Dara], is considered nothing," the commander said. "We need more than this to tip the balance or for there to even be a balance of power." U.S. officials said the Obama administration and its allies might supply anti-tank weapons to help the rebels destroy armored vehicles used by Assad's forces. They are less likely to provide portable antiaircraft missiles, which the rebels say they need to fight back against Assad's helicopters and warplanes. U.S. officials fear those missiles would fall into the hands of the largest of the Islamist militias in the rebel coalition, Al Nusra Front, which the U.S. regards as an Al Qaeda ally. Secretary of State John F. Kerry headed to Qatar on Friday and will talk with other governments backing the rebels. A senior State Department official told reporters that the talks would include discussions about coordinating deliveries of military aid. Asked Friday about the CIA training, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the U.S. had increased its aid to the rebels in the Free Syrian Army, but he refused to provide details. "We have stepped up our assistance, but I cannot inventory for you all the elements of that assistance," Carney said,. "We have provided and will continue to provide substantial assistance to the Syrian opposition, as well as the Supreme Military Council." The council is the military arm of an umbrella group that represents more moderate rebel factions, including the Free Syrian Army. CIA officials declined to comment on the secret training programs, which was being done covertly in part because of U.S. legal concerns about publicly arming the rebels, which would constitute an act of war against the Assad government. Other U.S. officials confirmed the training, but disputed some of the details provided by rebel commanders. Brig. Gen. Yahya Bittar, who defected as a fighter pilot from Assad's air force last year and is head of intelligence for the Free Syrian Army, said training for the last month or so had taken place in Jordan. The training, conducted by American, Jordanian and French operatives, involves rockets and anti-tank and antiaircraft weaponry, he said. Between 80 and 100 rebels from all over Syria have gone through the courses in the last month, he said, and training is continuing. Graduates are sent back across the border to rejoin the battle. Bittar said sufficient weapons had yet to arrive for the rebel forces and that the Americans had not yet told them when they could expect to receive additional arms. "Just promises, just promises," he said.
Citizens of the former Soviet Union were among the most pessimistic in the world about their job prospects last year, even though the number who thought it was a good time to find work rose more than in any other region of the world, a study released Friday by the Gallup polling organization found. “The former Soviet Union, as a region, saw the largest increase last year in the percentage of adults saying it was a good time to find work, with 27 percent saying this, up four points from last year,” the report says. But, as in the rest of the world, a majority of adults in former Soviet republics were pessimistic that they would be able to find a job in 2012. In fact, 55 percent of adults in the ex-USSR said last year was a bad time to find work in the region. In Russia, pessimism about job opportunities was slightly lower than the global average, with 53 percent of Russian adults saying 2012 was not a good time to find work at home and 26 percent saying they were optimistic about their job prospects, up four points from 2011. Tajikistan and Turkmenistan were bright spots for job-outlook optimists with 58 percent and 57 percent respectively saying they thought 2012 was a good time to find work at home. For Turkmen job-seekers, “historically high oil prices last year likely contributed to bright employment prospects,” Gallup said in its report. The report did not go into detail about Tajik job-seekers’ optimism. The landlocked central Asian country has one of the lowest GDPs per capita of any of the former Soviet republics, and many Tajiks go to Russia to work, sending remittances back home to support their families, according to the CIA World Factbook. In Moldova, where the economy depends heavily on agriculture and almost all energy supplies have to be imported, mostly from Russia and Ukraine, an overwhelming majority of adults – 90 percent – were pessimistic about finding work at home. Taken as a whole, the former Soviet Union ranked below Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of job optimism, and just above the Middle East and North Africa. Adults in the Americas were the most optimistic about finding a job in their region – 40 percent thought 2012 was a good time to do so – followed by Asians (35 percent), and sub-Saharan Africans at 32 percent. In the Middle East and North Africa, job optimism was at the same level as in the former Soviet Union but the percentage of adults who were pessimistic about finding a job was 11 percentage points higher, at 66 percent compared to 55 percent in the ex-USSR. At rock-bottom on the job optimism scale was Europe, where just 17 percent of adults said 2012 was a good time to find work in their region. The outlook was particularly grim in Greece, were only one percent of adults polled said they were optimistic about their job prospects at home in 2012. Unemployment is hovering near 27 percent in Greece, where nearly two-thirds of young people are out of work as the country struggles through a sixth year of recession.
The Express TribuneAt least four people were killed and eight others, including police officials, were injured as unknown men opened firing at an Imambargah in Bilal Colony area of Korangi, Karachi, Express News reported. An explosion followed soon afterwards. The explosion occurred near Imambargah, Hyderi shortly after a bout of firing killed three men in the same area. The injured are now being taken to Jinnah Hospital, reported Express News correspondent Nadeem Ahmed. The area has been cordoned off. Initial reports suggest that the explosion was caused by a hand grenade. Bomb Disposal Squad reached the site of the explosion and investigations are underway.
http://www.voanews.com/New laws and lengthy jail terms for activists have put freedom of association in Bahrain under severe threat, according to a report from Human Rights Watch. “The Bahraini authorities are going to great lengths to prevent ordinary Bahraini citizens from freely expressing themselves and associating with others on the streets of Bahrain to press for change," said Human Rights Watch Britain director David Mepham. The 87-page report published Thursday condemns what Human Rights Watch says are major restraints on the Freedom of Association in Bahrain. It highlights the draft law on civil organizations and institutions, which was approved by the government last year. The report says the provisions are much more restrictive than an earlier draft written in 2007 - and in many respects worse than the 1989 law, which is in effect today. The campaign group says the draft, which was sent to parliament this January, would allow Bahraini authorities to deny an organization’s right to register if they think society as a whole “does not need its services.” Mepham says the report criticizes Bahraini authorities for using the law to dissolve organizations and ban public gatherings. “There is a track record over the last decade or more of the Bahraini authorities being unwilling to allow peaceful dissent and peaceful criticism," he said. "And that in many ways has been stepped up in the last two years since the popular uprisings began in 2011.” Thousands were arrested and dozens died during the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain that began in February 2011. U.S. criticism A U.S. State Department report released in April also criticized the rights situation in Bahrain. It voiced concern over citizens' inability to change their government peacefully, and the arrest and detention of protesters on vague charges, which it said sometimes leads to their torture in detention. The State Department also criticized the lack of due process in trials of political and human rights activists. Attempts by VOA to reach Bahraini authorities for comment on Thursday’s report were unsuccessful. But in response to the U.S. State Department report in April, the kingdom said it has a “full commitment to comply with the human rights principles and standards in confronting terror, which targets Bahrain and innocent civilians." Mepham disagrees. “Nobody at the senior level in the Bahraini security forces, the Bahraini defense forces, or the Bahraini police has been held to account for their role in the torture, death, imprisonment and beating of hundreds of people that took place throughout 2011. So there is a massive failure in terms of accountability.” Mepham says Bahrain’s international allies, including Britain and the United States, should put more pressure on Bahrain to improve its human rights record. The European Union’s High Representative Catherine Ashton and other EU ministers are to meet with the Gulf Cooperation Council in Bahrain later this month.
Swiss prosecutors announced Friday that they had refused to reopen a probe into alleged corruption in the 1990s by current Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and his late wife former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Prosecutors in Geneva said that the decision was taken on February 4 this year, and that they had only opted to make it public as a result of street protests in Pakistan. They declined to comment in detail, but the Swiss news portal 20minutes.ch published photographs of anti-Zardari protestors burning Switzerland’s flag at a rally in Pakistan. Zardari and Bhutto were alleged to have siphoned $12 million in state cash in the 1990s, when he was a government minister and she was premier. Bhutto lost office in 1996, and a year later Pakistan made a formal request for Swiss legal help in a probe of the couple and Bhutto’s mother Nusrat Bhutto. Bhutto went into self-imposed exile in the United Arab Emirates in 1997, returning in 2007, only to be assassinated in a bomb attack on an election rally the same year. Weeks before Bhutto was killed, Pakistan had withdrawn its request for help from the Swiss, and Geneva investigators formally closed their side of the probe in 2008. Zardari, meanwhile, was arrested in Pakistan on graft charges after his wife’s government fell, before being freed in 2004, going into exile in the United Arab Emirates, then returning after Bhutto’s death. He was elected president in 2008. In November 2012, however, Pakistan’s government renewed its request for Swiss legal assistance after being ordered to do so by its own supreme court. Geneva prosecutors underlined Friday that no new evidence had emerged since the case was dropped in 2008, meaning they could not reopen the investigation. In addition, the fact that the alleged offences took place more than 15 years ago meant that the statute of limitations had expired, they said. They also complained about mixed messages from Pakistan. Just a month after filing the renewed request, Pakistan sent them a letter stating that the call for a revived probe was linked to domestic politics and that there was no need to heed it. That amounted to abuse of the legal system, prosecutors said.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/About a third of women worldwide have been physically or sexually assaulted by a former or current partner, according to the first major review of violence against women. In a series of papers released on Thursday by the World Health Organization and others, experts estimated nearly 40 percent of women killed worldwide were slain by an intimate partner and that being assaulted by a partner was the most common kind of violence experienced by women. "Violence against women is a global health problem of epidemic proportions," WHO director-general Dr Margaret Chan said in a statement. WHO defined physical violence as being slapped, pushed, punched, choked or being attacked with a weapon. Sexual violence was defined as being physically forced to have sex, having sex because you were afraid of what your partner might do and being compelled to do something sexual that was humiliating or degrading. The report also examined rates of sexual violence against women by someone other than a partner and found about 7 percent of women worldwide had previously been a victim. In conjunction with the report, WHO issued guidelines for authorities to spot problems earlier and said all health workers should be trained to recognize when women may be at risk and how to respond appropriately. Globally, the WHO review found 30 percent of women are affected by domestic or sexual violence by a partner. The report was based largely on studies from 1983 to 2010. According to the United Nations, more than 600 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime. The rate of domestic violence against women was highest in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, where 37 percent of women experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner at some point in their lifetime. The rate was 30 percent in Latin and South America and 23 percent in North America. In Europe and Asia, it was 25 percent. Some experts said screening for domestic violence should be added to all levels of health care, such as obstetric clinics. "It's unlikely that someone would walk into an ER and disclose they've been assaulted," said Sheila Sprague of McMaster University in Canada, who has researched domestic violence in women at orthopedic clinics. She was not connected to the WHO report. "Over time, if women are coming into a fracture clinic or a pre-natal clinic, they may tell you they are suffering abuse if you ask," she said. For domestic violence figures, scientists analyzed information from 86 countries focusing on women over the age of 15. They also assessed studies from 56 countries on sexual violence by someone other than a partner, though they had no data from the Middle East. WHO experts then used modeling techniques to fill in the gaps and to come up with global estimates for the percentage of women who are victims of violence. In a related paper published online in the journal Lancet, researchers found more than 38 percent of slain women are killed by a former or current partner, six times higher than the rate of men killed by their partners. Heidi Stoeckl, one of the authors at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the figures were likely to be an underestimate. She and colleagues found that globally, a woman's highest risk of murder was from a current or ex-partner. In countries like India, Stoeckl said things like "honor killings," where women are sometimes murdered over dowry disputes or perceived offenses like infidelity to protect the family's reputation, adds to the problem. She also noted that women and men are often slain by their partners for different reasons. "When a woman kills her male partner, it's usually out of self-defense because she has been abused," she said. "But when a woman is killed, it's often after she has left the relationship and the man is killing her out of jealousy or rage." Stoeckl said criminal justice authorities should intervene at an earlier stage. "When a woman is killed by a partner, she has often already had contact with the police," she said. Stoeckl said more protective measures should be in place for women from their partners, particularly when he or she has a history of violence and owns a gun. "There are enough signs that we should be watching out for that," she said. "We certainly should know if someone is potentially lethal and be able to do something about it."
http://www.rferl.org/Afghan and Pakistani envoys have clashed at the United Nations Security Council over the presence of Islamist "terrorists" in their shared border region. "Terrorist sanctuaries continue to exist on Pakistan's soil and some elements continue to use terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy," Afghanistan's UN Ambassador Zahir Tanin told the Security Council on June 20. EXPLAINER: What Each Side Is Seeking From Doha Taliban Talks Pakistan's UN Ambassador Masood Khan rejected the Afghan statement, saying that "terrorists operate on both sides" of the border and many extremist attacks in Pakistan were planned in Afghanistan. The exchange came after Pakistan said it had played a role in persuading the Afghan Taliban to hold peace talks with the United States. But this move has angered Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has denounced the Taliban’s opening of a new office in Qatar.
BY: Mehr Tarar
The Express TribunePakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani on Wednesday said he was explicit in his remarks while suggesting that establishment and law enforcing agencies should be brought under civilian control if the improvement of law and order was desired in Balochistan. “Is it not the responsibility of the provincial government that after the 18th Amendment to the Constitution it should bring Frontier Constabulary under its supervision?” Rabbani said. “Security forces should work under the guidance of provincial government,” he said speaking at a joint press conference along with Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik. Appreciating Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar’s concerns on the law and order issue, Rabani said the interior minister should be more precise in his actions. “We really welcome the recent statements of interior minister but he has to take some positive and specific measures,” Senator Rabbani said, adding that the PPP will support all the positive steps of the PML-N government. He said PPP will never leave their Baloch brethren in the lurch. He reminded that it was the PPP government that introduced the 18th Amendment which made an insertion in the Article 172 of the Constitution giving 50% share to the province of its natural resources. Earlier the federation used to get 100% share. Rabbani said that the shift of power from one section of the people to another has occurred after a long period of 400 years in this part of the land and this was the result of political and democratic process. Rabbani condemned the June 15 blasts in Quetta and said they shared the sorrows of the aggrieved families equally. Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch thanked Senator Raza Rabbani and praised his support for the government of Balochistan. Later, PPP leader Sadiq Umrani, Mir Maqbool Lehri and others met Rabbani in the CM House Quetta, and discussed the recent terrorist attacks in Quetta.
DAWN.COMTHE inevitable has to happen. When? It may happen next month, or take another couple of months. The Nawaz Sharif government has to knock at the IMF’s doors to obtain another loan to pay back in the next 12 months what is already owed to the lender. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar hinted at this eventuality several times in recent weeks. There’s no harm in taking new loans to pay off old ones, he was quoted as having said during his first briefing on the state of the economy his party has inherited from the previous government. The new loan will not raise the country’s stock of foreign exchange, which is sufficient only to pay the import bill for another three months. Nonetheless, it will stop further depletion of reserves, halt temporarily the erosion in the rupee’s buying power and in the confidence of the business community, as well as pave the way for more dollars from other global lenders for large infrastructure projects. The government has already taken some steps in its first budget to meet conditions that the IMF is likely to attach to the new loan. These actions include a significant increase in tax revenues — although without expanding the base — a substantial reduction in electricity subsidies and liquidation of the power-sector debt. Some other measures like a hike in electricity prices and the reform of state-owned businesses including power generation and distribution entities to prepare them for sale will be taken in the next couple of years. All these actions will make the life of the common people more difficult because they are being asked to shoulder the chunk of the adjustments being made to make state finances more liquid. The wealthy have again been spared. The previous government had also instituted similar initiatives when it signed the standby arrangement loan with the Fund in November 2008 to stop the run-on on the banks and the rupee. However, it had dithered from taking tougher decisions to reform and restructure the tax system, state corporations, power businesses, etc under political pressure from its allies and the opposition led by the PML-N. Five years hence, the country may again be standing at the crossroads unless a comprehensive plan for the economy is devised that moves beyond the regular recourse to the IMF. For starters, the new government must take difficult decisions to restructure the economy for sustainable and early recovery without considering the political fallout from its opponents or from the powerful and wealthy.